I am part of Micro campus a group of sixteen students from Shanghai American Shcool that came to Xizhou for 28 days. We shode a topic to study in Xhizou for the first 18 days. The next 10 days We make and plan our final project. The topic I chose was Local Landforms/Geology.
I chose Local Geography because of how I will be able to see a wide variety of Xizhou and be in nature. As well as talking to local people about landforms that have cultural ties in the village of Xizhou. This topic is important to me because I want to understand the land around Xizhou and see how these landforms affect life there and what it does for the residents' lives. I think I will enjoy finding these landforms and finding out what brought them here, If they are going away, or if they are growing. I plan to find the history as well as the future of the mountains in Xizhou. I think this topic will take little looking around and more talking with people to be able to find the background of these landforms and more specifically the mountains.
My sources in Xizhou were found when I did the 3 to 5's (a set of conversations) with the linden center staff and our teacher support. My contacts were local businesses, farmers, high school teachers, local people, and temple owners. I looked not only at the facts but also the perspectives of the people in Xizhou. I also looked at how the geography affected Xizhou and the Bai culture. I chose these sources because of their relationships with Xizhou's geography and the government's lake program affecting the people.
The kinds of questions I was trying to answer were questions based on the cause and effect of Xizhou on the geography and vice versa. Questions like how was the geography affected by Xizhou residents in the past/present/future. Other questions were what stories or myths do you know, or how do you think tourism affects the geography and vice versa.
My thesis for this product is, To fully understand Xizhous geography one must consider the past, present, and future of Xizhou's relationship with the geography.
Sharing My Learning
For my sharing my learning I have created my final product, a video. I created the video to share my learning with everyone and my personal journey. The video is embedded above but here is a link to the youtube video.
From the inquiry project, I took away huge amounts of information. I learned that respecting people's opinions allows me to receive more information over time than persisting to find information from someone. I also learned that every piece of information even the ones that I didn't want, are important. But most importantly I learned that if I focus and complete my work, I can finish my work faster than I think. Over the course of the Inquiry project, I worked away and there was no stress. I wasn't stressed because I finished work when I needed to.
During the course of My studies, my topic changed multiple times. At first, my topic was local landforms/geology, after a while I realized this was just parts of geography. So I changed my topic to local geography. After a while, I was just receiving facts but not able to put it to use. My final change was changing it for the final product so it was change over time. I realized the connections with geography both mentally and physically were more important than the plain facts.
The most challenging part of my work started to happen in the last few field research days. I started to notice that fewer and fewer people wanted to talk to me about geography and even when people wanted to they told me less information than the last. I was finding less relevant information. I realized that instead of being upset I should realize that this meant I was coming to the end of my field research. Looking through my information I realized I had heaps of it and it was hard to fit enough in the six-minute video.
During this process, I did not have many a-ha moments. But if I had to choose one it would be when I was looking for local geography myths. I kept asking people if they knew any stories about geography. One after another people kept saying they did not. After a while, I tried to say something different instead I tried asking for fairy tales about the geography. After that change people started answering and at the end, I had built up over five stories.
Over the course of these 21 days, I have learned many things about Xizhous geography but the thing that stuck with me the most is to do with the connections the people have with the geography. I realized that the strong connection people have with the geography was only formed from need and hardship. The people were literally living off of the bark and grass of the land. Only because of that were people bonded with geography. Now over time as the connections dwindle, it is because of the lack of need.
This topic let me connect and interact with the Xizhou residents in many ways. One of the reasons is because of the protect the lake program. The program has brought out many opinions for the people of Xizhou and letting them pour out those opinions with no judgment let a stronger bond form. Another reason is because of the tremendous amount of days that we were out in the village interacting and conversing with the local people.
I learned that as a person I like learning about the perspectives of people. One of the biggest things I realized is that although I like being in the company of other people being alone really lets me think. I enjoy being in a quiet space and just look at the sky, mountains or lake. I realized that watching people has an unnatural sense to me and I enjoy just being in and focusing on nature and the animals in it.
Over the course of these days, my topic let me know many things about myself. I realized that a big part of me is understanding things and what they mean. I love learning about everything and not only that but taking the things I learned and making meaning out of it. One example of this is when I got the information from the past and present. I wanted to use the information to solve the "puzzle" of the future and figure out what I thought the future of Xizhou would be like.
If I could go back in time some things I would want to know are the types of things with the topic I chose and how the process would pan out in Xizhou. If I had known that I was able to make a literal product something tangible I would have chosen either wood carving or silversmithing. I would have enjoyed learning the technique and then using my knowledge of it to make a tangible product.
If another micro-campus student was to pick up my work there are a couple of things they could look at. There are two things specifically that I did not look at because of time, they are the geology of Xizhou and the weather of Xizhou. If someone was to pick up my work they should go to the rock museums and talk to people about the weather. Over time I realized rocks and geology actually have a big part of Xizhou especially the iron ore on the mountain and how it was formed.
I want to give acknowledgments to the people and adults that have helped me throughout this journey. First of all the biggest thanks needs to go to Mr. T and Ms. Mai. Some other people that I would like to thank are the teacher support Ms. B, Ms. Wang, and Mr. Yang. Although they may never read this I would like to thank the local people that I have had conversations with. Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Linden for letting us use Yang Zhuo Ran.
This trip has been an amazing experience learning about Xizhou and its different aspects along with the relationships with geography. The time has gone by so fast but I have learned many things including project skills, time management, Show to talk correctly and most important the four pillars. Although this trip has been an academic journey it has been fun and inspiring. This trip may be almost over but I do not think I will ever forget it.